The Essential Guide to Purifying & Filtering Tap Water

Written by: Pard Bharaj



Time to read 15 min


Often, when we think about maintaining good health, our focus is primarily on food. We carefully select organic, nutritious diets to stay healthy. However, an equally important aspect of our health, which is frequently overlooked, is the water we consume. Water forms a major part of our body composition and is crucial for our well-being - it is a vital nutrient.

The UK tap water is regarded as one of the safest in the world, however occasionally contaminants can seep in to our water supply. In this article we will delve a little deeper into the contaminants that can sometime be found in tap water, why it is good to purify drinking water and the best methods we can use for filtering tap water that we use in our homes.

Clean Water:  As Vital as Organic Food?

Just as we prioritise natural and organic food for its health benefits, it's crucial to apply the same level of care to the water we drink. Ensuring that our water is pure and free from contaminants (or as much as possible) is not just about physical health; it's about respecting the vital role of water in our lives. By purifying and filtering our tap water, we improve the body's ability to detoxify and cleanse from toxins more effectively - you may even find that certain unexplainable ailments begin to disappear.  Readers may be interested in learning more about ways to detox through this article - Best Ways to Detox.

The Cultural Significance of Water 

Around the world, water is not just seen as a basic necessity but is often held in high regard. In many cultures, water is associated with spiritual and metaphysical values. For example, in Hindu culture, water from the Ganges is considered sacred and purifying. In Japan, Shinto practices include water rituals for spiritual cleansing. These cultural practices underline the importance of water beyond its physical use.

The image shows the famous "floating" torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine, which is located on the island of Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. This iconic Shinto shrine gate appears to float on the water, especially during high tide, creating a stunning and picturesque scene against the backdrop of the sea and the sky. The torii gate is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, symbolizing the transition from the mundane to the sacred. The bright vermillion color of the gate is a common color for torii gates, as it is believed to ward off evil spirits.

The Hidden Contaminants in Tap Water 

As mentioned earlier British tap water supplies are some of the best-rated in the world according to a Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) report published in July 2023, which noted that compliance with standards for English public water supplies being at 99.7%.¬† However, the question we have to ask ourselves is the ‚Äústandard‚ÄĚ that's been set good enough for optimal health?

Despite rigorous treatment processes, tap water can contain various contaminants and toxins. These can range from industrial chemicals to residues from agricultural practices. The presence of these pollutants in our water supply raises concerns about potential health risks. The effect of these contaminants is not just limited to humans but extends to plants and our animal companions. 

Below is a list of contaminants that have been found in tap water.  Please note that the toxins and heavy metals found in tap water can vary from region to region, country to country. We’re also not claiming that these contaminants are in significant quantities to cause any serious health concerns, although we do recommend filtering tap water to minimise ingestion of contaminants as much as possible, these toxins even in minute quantities are best avoided.

  • Lead:¬†Often leaches into water from old pipes and plumbing fixtures.
  • Chlorine:¬†Commonly used for disinfection, but can react to form harmful by-products.¬†
  • Fluoride: Added for dental health benefits, but its presence is controversial due to potential health risks.
  • Nitrates: Can enter water supply from agricultural runoff, posing a risk especially to infants.
  • Pesticides and Herbicides: Residues from agricultural practices that can contaminate water sources.
  • Microplastics: Increasingly detected in water sources, with potential health implications.
  • Pharmaceutical Residues: Medications that pass through sewage treatment and enter water sources.
  • Hormones: Including estrogen, which can enter the water system through human and animal waste.
  • Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs): Also known as 'forever chemicals', used in various industrial applications.¬† Analysis by the¬†Royal Society of Chemistry¬†reveals more than a third of water courses tested in England and Wales contain medium or high-risk levels of PFAS. This group, more commonly known as forever chemicals, is linked to a range of health issues.
  • Arsenic: Naturally occurring in some areas and can contaminate water sources.
  • Mercury:¬†Can enter water through industrial processes and is toxic in various forms.
  • Cadmium: Often originates from industrial waste and corroded metal fittings.
  • Copper:¬†Can leach into water from copper pipes, especially in acidic water conditions.
  • Aluminum:¬†Sometimes used in water treatment but can be harmful in high concentrations.
  • Bacteria and Viruses: Can contaminate water sources, particularly in areas with poor sanitation.

For a full list of contaminants please visit the DWI website.

"Water is life, and clean water means health"

Audrey Hepburn

The image features a close-up of a dynamic splash of water, with droplets captured in mid-air, creating a sense of movement. The splash is centrally located in the frame against a blurred natural backdrop that suggests a serene body of water, possibly a lake, and a treeline in the distance. The lighting is soft, giving the water a crystal clear appearance with highlights and shadows that add depth and texture to the image.

Benefits of Purifying and Filtering Tap Water

  • Enhances Healing:¬†Contaminated water may contain ¬†heavy metals, or chemicals that can impede the body's natural healing processes or even cause additional health problems. By eliminating these contaminants, purified water ensures that the body is not burdened with additional stressors that could slow down healing.

  • Aids in Detoxification:¬†Purified water is instrumental in the body's detoxification process, flushing out toxins and heavy metals that can accumulate from various sources. This helps protect internal systems and contributes to overall bodily health.

  • Enhances Hydration:¬† Filtered tap water can potentially improve hydration indirectly by removing contaminants that may discourage drinking due to taste or health concerns.¬†

  • Boosts Energy Levels: Regular consumption of purified water contributes to higher energy levels. Adequate hydration is key to maintaining optimal bodily function, which includes energy production and management.

  • Supports Digestion:¬†Adequate hydration from purified water aids in digestion and can help prevent gastrointestinal issues like constipation and bloating‚Äč‚Äč.

  • Prevents Disease: Drinking purified water may lower the risk of diseases linked to contaminants in unfiltered water.

  • Improves Mental Well-being: Staying hydrated with purified water can improve mood and reduce the frequency of headaches and feelings of lethargy‚Äč‚Äč.

  • Improves Taste and Odor: By reducing chlorine and other substances, purified water often tastes and smells better than tap water, which may encourage increased consumption‚Äč‚Äč. Speaking from personal experience, once you start drinking filtered tap water, you really begin to notice the difference in taste compared to unfiltered tap water. The change is quite apparent. I even give filtered water to my plants and they have been growing very well.

  • PH Balance: Some purification processes can also adjust the pH level of water, making it more alkaline. While the benefits of alkaline water are debated, some people find that it helps with hydration and overall wellness.

Downside of Purifying and Filtering Tap Water

Methods like distillation and reverse osmosis can remove beneficial minerals from water, such as calcium and magnesium, which are essential for health. However this water can be remineralised by adding himalayan, celtic or sea salt.  Some machines also come with cartridges that remineralise the water.

Best Methods For Purifying and Filtering Tap Water

According to Water UK One in five households currently filters their tap water, and 13% boil it before drinking.  It can be quite confusing when reviewing the best ways to purify water, below we have included a list of the most suitable machines and tools we can use in our home for cleaning and filtering tap water, as well as the pros and cons of each.

1.  Reverse Osmosis (RO)

Reverse Osmosis is a sophisticated water filtration method that uses a semi-permeable membrane to remove a wide array of contaminants, including fluoride, heavy metals, dissolved salts, and some microorganisms, from water.

Process & Mechanism

  • Process: Water is forced under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane.
  • Mechanism: The membrane's fine pores allow only water molecules to pass through, effectively filtering out a wide range of contaminants.

Contaminant Removal

  • Effective Against: Fluoride, heavy metals (like lead and mercury), chlorine, bacteria, viruses, and many dissolved inorganic and organic compounds.
  • Not Effective Against: It can remove most pesticides, solvents, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but it may require additional filtration stages.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Highly effective for filtering tap water and in removing a broad spectrum of contaminants; improves taste and odor; available in various sizes and configurations, including standalone units.
  • Cons: Requires periodic maintenance and filter replacement; produces some wastewater; may remove some beneficial minerals.

Considerations for Home Use

  • Versatility: Available in under-sink models, countertop units, and larger whole-house systems.
  • Space and Installation: The size and type of system will dictate the space required; professional installation may be recommended for certain models.

Effectiveness and Price Range

  • Effectiveness: Very high in removing a wide range of contaminants.
  • Price Range: Varies widely depending on the system size and complexity, typically ranging from ¬£250 for small, simple units to ¬£700 for more advanced systems.

Reverse Osmosis is a highly effective and versatile option for home water purification, capable of addressing a wide range of water quality concerns, including the removal of fluoride and heavy metals.

The image shows a modern kitchen with a sleek, white reverse osmosis water machine on the countertop. The kitchen is bright and airy with natural light streaming in through large windows that look out to greenery. In the foreground, there

2.  Water Ionizers (Alkaline Ionizers)

Water Ionizers are devices that both filter and alter the pH level of water through electrolysis, creating alkaline water for drinking and acidic water for other uses.


Process and Mechanism

  • Process: Electrolysis is used to split water into alkaline and acidic streams.
  • Mechanism: Electrically charged plates change the pH of water. Most units include built-in filters, typically activated carbon, for basic contaminant removal.

Contaminant Removal

  • Effective Against: Some models can remove chlorine, certain heavy metals, and some organic compounds.
  • Not Effective Against: Generally less effective against fluoride, bacteria, viruses, and more complex chemical contaminants.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Produces alkaline water, which some users prefer for taste and potential health benefits; also provides acidic water for external use; some contaminant removal capability.
  • Cons: Not as effective as specialised filtration systems for comprehensive contaminant removal; health benefits of alkaline water are debated; relatively expensive.

Considerations for Home Use

  • Installation: Available in various models, including countertop and under-sink versions, fitting different kitchen setups.
  • Additional Filtration: In areas with heavily contaminated water or specific concerns like fluoride, it may be necessary to use in conjunction with more thorough filtration systems.

Effectiveness and Price Range

  • Effectiveness: Moderately effective for basic filtration and pH adjustment; not a substitute for comprehensive water purification systems.
  • Price Range: Generally ranges from ¬£200 to ¬£700 +, making it a more expensive option for water treatment.

In summary, water ionizers provide the dual function of altering water pH and basic filtration, making them suitable for users who prefer alkaline water and need basic contaminant removal. However, for more comprehensive water purification, especially in areas with specific water quality concerns, they should ideally be used alongside more advanced filtration systems.

The image features a sophisticated kitchen with an elegant water ionizer machine, known as an alkaline ionizer, placed on a marble countertop. The kitchen boasts high-end stainless steel appliances, classic cabinetry with glass doors, and a variety of potted plants that add a natural touch. The ionizer stands prominently yet unobtrusively in the background, complementing the luxurious and pristine design of the kitchen. Large windows offer a view of the outdoors, enhancing the room

3.  Activated Carbon Filters (Jugs or Tap-Mounted)

Activated Carbon Filters, available as water jugs or tap-mounted units, use activated carbon to adsorb impurities, improving the taste and quality of tap water.

Process and Mechanism

  • Process: Water passes through activated carbon material.
  • Mechanism: The porous nature of activated carbon traps contaminants like chlorine, certain chemicals, and organic compounds.

Contaminant Removal

  • Effective Against: Chlorine, some heavy metals (like lead), VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), and certain pesticides.
  • Not Effective Against: Does not remove fluoride, dissolved inorganic substances, or microorganisms like bacteria and viruses.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Simple to use and install; improves taste and odor; relatively inexpensive.
  • Cons: Limited range of contaminant removal; requires regular filter changes; slower flow rate in pitchers.

Considerations for Home Use

  • Ease of Use: Ideal for users seeking a basic, user-friendly water filtration solution.
  • Maintenance: Regular replacement of the carbon filter is necessary to maintain effectiveness.

Effectiveness and Price Range

  • Effectiveness: Moderately effective for certain contaminants; not a comprehensive solution for all water quality issues.
  • Price Range: Pitchers typically range from ¬£20 to ¬£50, while tap-mounted units can range from ¬£20 to ¬£100, depending on brand and features.

Activated Carbon Filters are a convenient and cost-effective option for improving the taste and reducing certain contaminants in tap water. They are well-suited for users who want a basic level of water filtration without the need for complex installation or maintenance. However, for more comprehensive water purification, particularly for contaminants like fluoride or bacteria, additional or alternative filtration methods may be necessary.

The image showcases a clear water pitcher filter on a marble countertop within an opulent kitchen. The kitchen is well-appointed with high-end appliances, sophisticated white cabinetry, and a large window that bathes the room in natural light. The pitcher is positioned towards the back of the counter, harmonizing with the kitchen

4.  Boiling 

Boiling is the simplest and most traditional method of water purification, involving heating water to its boiling point to kill pathogens.

Process and Mechanism

  • Process: Water is heated until it reaches a rolling boil, typically for 1-3 minutes.
  • Mechanism: The high temperature kills bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Contaminant Removal

  • Effective Against: Most types of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
  • Not Effective Against: Does not remove chemical contaminants, heavy metals, fluoride, or dissolved solids.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Highly accessible and easy to perform; no special equipment required; very effective against biological contaminants.
  • Cons: Time-consuming; energy-intensive; does not improve taste or remove non-biological contaminants; requires cooling before use.

Considerations for Home Use

  • Practicality: Ideal for emergency situations or in areas with questionable water quality.
  • Energy Usage: Can be energy-intensive, especially if used regularly as the primary method of water purification.

Effectiveness and Price Range

  • Effectiveness: Highly effective for eliminating biological contaminants.
  • Price Range: No additional cost beyond the regular expense of heating water, such as using a stove or an electric kettle.

Boiling water is a universally accessible method for making water safe from pathogens, particularly useful in emergency situations or when other forms of purification are not available. However, it's not a comprehensive solution for all types of water contamination and is less practical for regular use due to the time and energy required.

The image displays a modern, clear electric kettle on a marble countertop in a stylish kitchen. The kettle is turned on, with water boiling inside, as indicated by steam rising from the spout. The kitchen is equipped with high-end appliances and boasts sleek cabinetry with warm under-cabinet lighting, creating a cozy yet contemporary ambiance. The kettle is positioned in the background of the kitchen, which has a clean and minimalist design, with natural light filtering through the windows.

5.  Ultra Violet Water Purifiers

UV Water Purifiers use ultraviolet light to disinfect water, effectively neutralising a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.

Process and Mechanism

  • Process: Water is exposed to UV light as it passes through a chamber.
  • Mechanism: The UV light damages the DNA of microorganisms, rendering them harmless and unable to reproduce.

Contaminant Removal

  • Effective Against: Most bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
  • Not Effective Against: Does not remove chemical contaminants, heavy metals, fluoride, or dissolved solids.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Highly effective against a wide range of pathogens; does not alter the taste or odor of water; chemical-free.
  • Cons: Requires electricity; does not filter out non-biological contaminants; water clarity is important for effectiveness.

Considerations for Home Use

  • Installation and Maintenance: Needs to be installed in-line with plumbing and requires a power source. Regular maintenance, including bulb replacement, is necessary.
  • Complementary Use: Often used in combination with other filtration methods to provide comprehensive water purification.

Effectiveness and Price Range

  • Effectiveness: Very high for disinfecting water from pathogens.
  • Price Range: Home UV purification systems can range from around ¬£250 for basic models to ¬£700 or more for advanced systems with additional features.

UV Water Purifiers are an excellent choice for effectively disinfecting water, particularly in areas where microbial contamination is a concern. They are best used in conjunction with other filtration methods to also address chemical, metal, and other non-biological contaminants in water. Their ease of use and low maintenance make them a popular choice for home water purification.

The image features a sleek modern kitchen with a marble backsplash and grey cabinetry. On the countertop, there is a stylishultra violet water purifier with a digital display, flanked by two potted plants with lush green foliage. To the right, there are various kitchen utensils and fresh vegetables laid out, suggesting a focus on healthy living. The overall aesthetic is clean, organized, and contemporary.

6.  Distillation

Distillation is a process of purifying water by boiling it to produce steam, which is then condensed back into liquid, effectively removing a wide range of contaminants.

Process and Mechanism

  • Process: Water is heated until it boils and turns to steam; the steam is then cooled in a separate chamber where it condenses back into liquid water.
  • Mechanism: Contaminants with a higher boiling point than water are left behind, while the steam collects as distilled water.

Contaminant Removal

  • Effective Against: Most bacteria, viruses, heavy metals (like lead and mercury), fluoride and a range of dissolved solids and chemicals.
  • Not Effective Against: Some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and certain chemicals that have lower boiling points than water.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Produces very pure water; effective against a wide range of contaminants; no need for chemical additives.
  • Cons: Energy-intensive; time-consuming; removes beneficial minerals, leading to flat-tasting water; some contaminants with lower boiling points may not be removed.

Considerations for Home Use

  • Energy and Time: Requires a significant amount of energy and time to produce a relatively small amount of water.
  • Equipment: Requires specific distillation equipment, which can range from simple stovetop models to more complex and automated systems.

Effectiveness and Price Range

  • Effectiveness: Very high for removing a wide range of contaminants, particularly inorganic compounds, microbes, and heavy metals.
  • Price Range: Home distillation units can range from about ¬£100 for basic models to ¬£500 or more for advanced systems with larger capacities and automated features.

Distillation is a highly effective method for purifying water, especially useful for removing a broad spectrum of contaminants. However, its practicality for home use is limited by its energy requirements, the time it takes to produce distilled water, and the need for specific equipment. It's an excellent choice for those who need very pure water and are willing to invest in the necessary equipment and bear the associated costs.

The image displays a modern water distiller on a marble countertop in a well-lit, luxurious kitchen. Large windows reveal a lush green landscape outside, complementing the neutral tones of the kitchen

Conclusion: Navigating Water Purification Options for Home Use

When it comes to ensuring the safety and quality of drinking water at home, there are several effective purification methods available, each with its unique strengths and limitations. Understanding these can help in making an informed decision that best suits individual needs and water quality concerns.

  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) stands out for its ability to remove a broad spectrum of contaminants, including heavy metals, fluoride, and certain organic compounds. It's a comprehensive solution for those seeking thorough water purification. It can remove all of the minerals as well (unless it comes with an option to remineralise), however you can get around this issue by adding unrefined salts such as Himalayan, Celtic and Sea salt to your glass of water.
  • Water Ionizers adjust the pH level of water and provide basic filtration, but they are not comprehensive in contaminant removal. They are suitable for those interested in the potential health benefits of alkaline water.
  • Activated Carbon Filters, available as jugs or tap-mounted units, are user-friendly and effective at improving taste and odor, and removing certain contaminants like chlorine and some heavy metals. They are ideal for basic filtration needs.
  • Boiling is a simple and accessible method, highly effective against biological contaminants but does not remove chemical impurities.
  • UV Water Purifiers excel in disinfecting water from pathogens without altering its chemical composition, making them a great supplementary method to other filtration systems.
  • Distillation is highly effective in removing a wide range of contaminants, including heavy metals and fluoride, but it is energy-intensive and alters the taste of water by removing minerals.

Each of these methods has its place in home water purification, depending on the specific water quality issues faced and the desired outcome. For comprehensive water quality management, a combination of these methods might be the best approach, ensuring both the removal of a wide range of contaminants and the improvement of water taste and safety. Ultimately, the choice of water purification method should align with individual water quality needs, lifestyle considerations, and budget constraints.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should we also filter bathing water?

The skin can absorb water to some extent. This is most noticeable when you soak in a bath or shower for an extended period and your fingertips and toes start to look wrinkly‚ÄĒthis is a temporary condition known as pruning. However, the skin is designed to be a barrier and it does not absorb water in the same way that it absorbs substances like sweat and oils produced by the body or certain chemicals that are small enough to pass through its layers. Water absorption through the skin is limited because the outermost layer of skin, the stratum corneum, is made up of cells that are designed to repel water and protect the body from external elements.

How do you filter all of the homes' water supply?

Filtering the entire home water supply effectively requires a multi-stage process, often involving a combination of different filtration methods. Each method targets specific contaminants, ensuring comprehensive water purification.

Should i give my dog tap or filtered water

Definitely filtered water. It will make a positive difference to the health of any animal.

Does boiling tap water purify it?

Effectiveness: Boiling water is effective at killing bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. When water reaches its boiling point (100¬įC or 212¬įF), the heat destroys harmful microorganisms, making the water safe to drink.

Limitations: While boiling kills biological contaminants, it does not remove chemical pollutants, heavy metals, or minerals. In some cases

Taste: Boiling can change the taste of water, often making it flat. This is because boiling drives off dissolved gases and oxygen. To improve the taste, you can aerate the water by pouring it back and forth between two containers.

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Pard Bharaj

I am a dedicated researcher with nearly a decade of experience in investigating health best practices. My journey in the health and wellness field has been driven by a passion for understanding and sharing the most effective ways to maintain and improve health. Over the years, I have delved into a wide range of topics, constantly seeking out the latest research and insights. My commitment is to provide well-researched, accurate, and trustworthy information to help readers make informed decisions about their health.

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